PAWS devotes its energy to passionately advocating for the abandoned animals of the Aiken County area. Our two fold founding purpose is unwanted animal prevention and well-homed animal retention.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Leading Each Animal Safely Home (L.E.A.S.H.)
Aiken County Animal Advocates
THE VOICE OF PAWS
(Palmetto Animal Welfare Services, Inc.)
By Joya DiStefano
This Aiken County Animal Advocates Columns was posted in the Wagener Monthly in July 2014
Last month we presented Lars as a “wild
man,” and, although that is not a complete mischaracterization, as even Lars
himself would admit, it is not the full picture either. You can be sure that Mayor Mike saw it, too,
when he offered to set Lars, his wife Jess, their three-year-old daughter,
Savannah, and the rescue they had founded on property he owned. The audacity of
Lars comes complete with its own magic, major and minor miracles, a lot of
heart, and a whole lot of “likes” on Facebook (5,722, to be exact).
So perhaps before we ask the local
community to get involved, we should offer some background for the most recent cause
L.E.A.S.H. is an acronym that stands for
Leading Each Animal Safely Home.The
Swearingens founded the rescue two years ago this month on the notion that they
were going to rescue straight at the source, the streets, and that their
search-and-rescue missions would, in fact, result in lost dogs being returned
to their loving homes.The lucky beneficiary
of their first day on the job was a turtle.Pictures were taken, and the lucky reptile returned to Mama Nature.
It did not take long, however, for the
calls to start coming in, but the need was not entirely what the young couple
had imagined.There were dogs full of
puncture wounds, with rope burns on their neck, with mange covering their
bodies, and dogs that looked like badly upholstered skeletons. Search and
rescue was not about homes looking for their dogs, it was neglected, mistreated
and abandoned animals looking for safety, security and eventually the home all
Within a couple of months L.E.A.S.H.
incorporated as LEASH Squad and a few months later this newly minted rescue was
called upon in for a mission it could not have imagined in the couple of months
it had dedicated to even the worst cases from the “the streets.”
It began with the notice of a “Death Row
Album,” 48 dogs with a literal deadline at a county facility two and a half
hours east.Lars knew that he could not
accommodate 48 dogs, but he put out the call and the morning of the rescue operation
Lars had 5 cars, 7 people and 17 crates. They would do what they could.Then he got a call from someone willing to
donate a barn full of box stalls. God must have been smiling on the plan, such
as it was.
“What I didn’t realize at the time,” Lars
recalls, “Is that the litters did not count as individual dogs. The moms
counted; the puppies were extra.There
were actually 64 dogs.”Off they went
and then the call came from Danny & Ron’s Rescue in Camden.They were sending their “dog bus” full of
empty crates and complete with a driver. There was a reciprocal angel at the
other end when the party arrived.He had
done everything he could to save as many dogs as he could and Lars honored the
effort with the decision to take the lot, all of them.
The dog called Pat was a bite case on a
ten-day hold. He could not go.Lars does
not know how Jess managed to lock herself in the kennel with Pat, who then
proceeded to lick her face.“We take them
all, or we take none,” he said. By yet another miracle, they took all 67 dogs
out of that facility that day, and named the outrageous adventure “Operation
Phoenix Rising.”The number of enabling
miracles did not end there.
There was a Paws for Freedom Rescue
Convention the same day.The caravan
showed up at the convention and, and with the help of organizations like STAR, and
Molly’s Militia 40 dogs went straight into foster homes.The other 27 went to the farm.Seven who are the hardest cases are still
with Lars at L.E.A.S.H.
It has been two very challenging years.
Many, many more desperately needy dogs have come since the “Phoenix 67.” In the
ensuing months Lars and Jess have demonstrated their gratitude to God and their
commitment to this cause.They have also
learned a lot.Lars admits that he is
much better at playing well with others. He will be a great asset to the
Wagener area.L.E.A.S.H. needs and is
worthy of your help.
PAWS, Inc. has incorporated LEASH as a
program into is mission to “get and keep animals out of shelters.”PAWS is a 501(c)(3) public charity and, as
such we are asking for money, materials and manpower from vendors and members
of the local community to help the LEASH Rescue get more effectively
established.Lars has a plan.A concrete pad is most urgent.Mayor Mike has Quonset tents that can be
erected to keep the dogs dry now and then warm come winter.We need perimeter fencing.
Wagener can be proud of the steps it is
taking to join our local no-kill movement. It leads the way in the county for spay/neuter
assistance and Trap-Neuter-Return for the free-roaming cats.Please help any of the following causes with
your time or money: